January 15, 2023
Washington, D.C.–The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has released a new final rule which reclassifies most pistols that use stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles, which are subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968.
The new rule, which was signed on Friday, “amends the definition of “rifle” to clarify that the term ‘designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder’ includes a weapon that is equipped with an accessory, component, or other rearward attachment (e.g., a “stabilizing brace”) that provides surface area that allows the weapon to be fired from the shoulder, provided other factors…indicate that the weapon is designed, made, and intended to be fired from the shoulder.”
Anyone possessing these types of firearms must either replace the barrels with longer ones, register the weapons with the ATF, surrender them to the ATF, or destroy them. While the ATF is unwilling to “grandfather in” firearms that are currently owned, the agency is waiving the usual $200 tax for all weapons that are registered during the first 120 days after the rule is published.
The ATF reports receiving over 200,000 comments during the public comment period, of which over 90% opposed the rule. In response to the thousands who complained that the ATF is effectively creating new law, they stated:
The Department does not agree that the rule exceeds the authority provided under law; the rule is interpreting the language of the statute as written. Moreover, as explained in section II.A of this preamble, the Attorney General is responsible for enforcing the GCA and NFA, and Congress provided authority to the Attorney General to promulgate regulations as are necessary to enforce the provisions of these laws.